There are about 1.7 billion websites on the internet. That is about 1.7 billion businesses that are constantly talking online. However, only about 200 million of those websites are active and many of them are saying the same thing in the same way. That’s why it is so important that companies establish a unique voice and utilize every resource that they can to shout it from the rooftops.
One of the best resources for companies to gain an advantage over the competition is the use of a company voice. This is a term that seems to get thrown around a lot, yet many companies do not fully understand what it means, how to identify one, or how to build their own.
More Than Just Words
A company voice obviously involves the words that are said, but it is so much more than that. The tone of what is said is arguably just as important as the words themselves. Although the words are what delivers the message, the tone is what is used to establish intent and set a company apart from its competitors.
In fact, it was first established by Albert Mehrabian in 1967 that the words that are being said are actually a significantly small portion of communication. He proposed that the act of communication was comprised of three distinct parts: the words being spoken, the tone of the words, and the body language accompanying it. In his system, the words spoken accounted for only 7 percent of meaning, while tone accounted for 30 percent, and the remaining 55 percent was body language.
While this is not a perfect comparison for business today, considering the internet did not exist in 1967, it is still a relatively accurate model of communication. Taking this model into account, trying to base a company voice strictly off of words is not going to get you anywhere. It takes so much more than that, which is why so many companies fail to develop a signature voice.
Identifying a Company Voice
There are many professionals who are likely reading this right now and thinking that it does not apply to them. That might be entirely true, but there is a better chance that your company does not have the voice that you think it does. Here is a great test to figure out whether your company has its own distinct voice or not.
If you go on to your website or social media accounts and cover up the logo of the page and posts, you should be able to show these to someone familiar with the company, and they should immediately be able to tell what company these belong to based on the voice of the content. If they struggle to figure it out or are not able to identify it at all, then there is a good chance that your company is lacking the voice that you thought it had.
Almost just as bad as not having a company voice is having multiple, often conflicting, company voices. This can occur when the company voice is being portrayed by various employees and takes on their own voice rather than the overall company’s. For example, if the tone of the content that can be found on the company website dramatically varies from the tone of content that can be found on its social pages, there is a good chance that the company voice is really just the voices of various employees. This will once again make it hard for people to identify your company based on the voice of the content since there will be no consistency throughout the company’s various online channels.
There is a common cliche that you have to learn to love yourself before you can learn to let others love you. Well, a similar thing can be said for the world of business and finding a company voice. There is no way that a company can share a voice with the public if they do not first sit down amongst themselves, and figure out exactly what their voice is.
This process starts with an internal reflection of what makes your company unique and embracing that fact to establish a company voice. This goes far beyond how your company’s products are different from your competitor’s products. It should include things like what is different about the office culture that you have created at your company, how your employees are unique, and how your business practices set you apart. All of these things are part of who your company is and should, therefore, be an integral part of your company’s voice.
When completing this evaluation of your company, it is important to come away with things that are not cliche. After all, this is not someone interviewing for a job, it is a company attempting to establish its unique voice. So it is wise to try and stay away from typical descriptors such as honest, dependable, cutting edge, and revolutionary. Ironically, using these words is anything but cutting edge, since a large portion of businesses will integrate this as part of their voice.
Once your company has completed this exercise and has come away with several important indicators of what makes you unique, it is essential that you write these down and keep them handy for future use. After all, in most companies, the communications will be handled by a designated communications worker, which is likely to see some turnover throughout the years.
As new employees or multiple employees become tasked with handling certain sections of corporate communication, they need to have the tools necessary to be able to display a consistent voice across all platforms. So by having a physical, or rather digital, copy of this voice style guide, these employees can work to make sure that what they are writing up falls in line with the company voice.
Shout It From the Rooftops
Once a company has a concrete idea of what they want their voice to be, it is time to start shouting it from the rooftops so that the public can be introduced to their new voice. Companies should then begin including this voice in everything — the about page on their website, product descriptions, email subscription confirmation messages, voicemail greetings, face to face communication, and more.
Nothing is too small to fall in line with the company voice, since anything that does not match up with this established voice can be confusing to customers. If you need help establishing your voice and aligning it with your brand, Glint is here to help. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 817-616-0320.